DC News & Views

More news (thankfully) this week. Thus, let’s not bother with silly intros. Let’s kick it!

The Cat’s Meow”¦No More!

A little earlier than he originally planned, but still, four years after starting, Catwoman writer Ed Brubaker has confirmed for Newsarama that Novembe’s issue #37 will be his final outing with DC’s feline femme fatale.

Two years ago at Comic Con International: San Diego, Brubaker announced he was planning on leaving the series around issue #50, but roughly a year and a half early, here we are.

We caught up with Brubaker to talk about his reasons for leaving, as well as a quick look back on his time spent with the characters.

Enjoy one last saucer of milk at Newsarama

Morse Picks Up The Jingle Ball

For the first time in over three years, DC’s Catwoman will have someone other than Ed Brubake’s name beside the writer credit starting with issue #38. That name – Scott (Spaghetti Western, Batman: Roomful of Strangers) Morse, who will be coming on for a three issue run.

Stylistically, many would see Morse’s art be a perfect for the series, which, pervious to the new look given to it by Paul Gulacy and Jimmy Palmiotti, was home to the likes of Darwyn Cooke, Cameron Stewart and Javier Pulido. But nope – Morse is virtually words only this time out.

Relish a brand new scratching post (or writer”¦whatever) at Newsarama

All right, everybody, all together now. Stand up and give Mr. Brubaker a hearty round of applause. He’s done a hell of a job with Catwoman and, along with Darwyn Cooke, revitalized a character sorely in need of reinvention. Selina has never been as cool or as interesting as she was under Brubake’s pen.

And while it is always sad to see a creator move on from a character he has done so much with, Brubake’s reasoning could not be better. He feels himself growing tapped out and losing the excitement that he once had for the title. It is far better to leave fandom wanting then to overstay your welcome so, missed or not, Brubaker certainly made the right call.

Now the ball falls to Morse to maintain the momentum. We here at DCNV (and by we, I mean me) wish him the best in that endeavor.

Time to Get ANGRY!

There’s a general truism that one shouldn’t pollute where one resides – that’s a good way to ultimately do even greater harm to yourself. Yet, we’ve never really seemed to be able to figure it out properly in comics.

Part of it, I think, is that publishers often look in the abstract, rather than the specifics, when they think of their customers. Well, that’s assuming that they think of them at all, really. I don’t think that publishers generally see you as valued life-long customers – they see you as ATMs that they have the PIN code for. And it often feels they look at the retailers as even lower forms of life.

Watch as Hibbs stirs it up at Newsarama

David Tosses Off a Bit of Good Ol’ Fashioned Activism Into the Ring

In reponse to Brian Hibbs’ most recent Tilting @ Windmills column, here on Newsarama, Peter David, writer of Fallen Angel is offering a bookplate for copies of the Fallen Angel trade paperback.

David first wrote of the offer at his webblog, in a reponse to Hibbs’ column.

Read all about comic activism in motion (and Hibb’s column”¦again) at Newsarama

DC Offers Up A Solution”¦Sort of

If you picked up any of DC’s “War Games” crossovers, as well as a few other DC titles over the past couple of weeks, you noticed them – Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow promotional CD-ROMS were polybagged with the comics.

Yay! Free stuff, right?

Not if you’re a retailer.

See DC try to make nice at Newsarama

Well, that was interesting. I’ve written a few editorials in my day, mostly for the College Voice (Connecticut College, what WHAT!), so I know about spouting off in the vain hope that something I wrote will make an impact. On occasion it happened. It was rare, but it did and that was enough for me. Hibbs…well, he pretty much outdid me here.

I applaud the fact that one online editorial could effect one event directly (Peter David’s deal with retailers) and indirectly effect another (DC’s reimbursement”¦it is unclear how much of a role Hibbs’s essay played in that choice though). That having been said, let’s take a look at the actual argument, shall we?

We’ll start with the weakest point. The Bone thing. I get what he’s saying, I just don’t buy it. I thought it was a cool thing to have available for convention goers. It is it and that is that for me.

Now, onto the strongest argument. Hibbs is completely in the right on this. A no notice increase in shipping costs because DC chose a promotion that increased the weight of each and every issue. I want DC to stay in business, I want them to make money, so I support them getting advertising bucks. That being said, it is not fair not to give retailers a heads-up when that sort of thing is coming down the pike. Thus, there 2 cent refund was the right move.

What it doesn’t do is address the rest of Hibbs’s issues about the packaging. There are some solutions, but sadly, not all can completely negate the polybag issue. Opening one book so customers can take a look is a smart call. That way, they can flip through to confirm it is something they want to try and buy one still in the bag. Everyone wins.

As far as the aesthetics and the damage”¦sadly, there is not much to be done for that. At least, no solution I could come up with. Anybody out there got one?

Finally, we reach the section that I feel Hibbs ultimately (pun not intended) dropped the ball on. The “shipping too many of one type at once” argument” has promise, but the examples he chooses to cite do him no justice. In particular, his Vertigo/Ultimate lines argument. Most of his arguments are emphasizing how such moves hurt the common shopper. The thing is this, the common shopper does not buy entire lines of books, whether or not we release them all at once. Your common shopper does not necessarily enjoy Lucifer and think, “I should buy Losers,” just because they both have Vertigo on the cover. Same with the Ultimate books. Unless you are an Ultimate line fan, first and foremost (which would make you, most likely, not an average just stopping by shopper), you are more likely to zone in on characters. So, if you dig Ultimate Spidey, you’ll pick up Amazing Spider-Man or Spectacular for a look, not Ultimate X-Men.

In any case, I think there is a strong case to be made there, but I don’t think Hibbs uses the right examples to make it. His passing references to the Bat and X-books could have provided a stronger springboard, in my opinion.

And let us not forget to praise Peter David for a.) name dropping our old stomping ground and b.) stepping up to the plate to try something new. The man clearly cares about his comics (and comics in general) and that is always a pleasure to see.

CSA! CSA! CSA! CSA! CSA! CSA!

Kurt Busiek and Justice League are a winning combination as far as most comics fans are concerned. His JLA/Avengers team-up was a nice mix of nostalgia and modern comics. He’s going to be wrapping up some of the loose ends from that mini as well as featuring some villains that are longtime JLA fan-favorites and were reintroduced to the DC universe through the special graphic novel Earth 2, the Crime Syndicate of Amerika. Busiek’s first JLA issue is # 107 which begins the CSA story. After that Busiek teased he has lots coming up including new characters, overhaul of existing villains, and more!

Join the chant (and learn some stuff about the JLA) at The Pulse

The weird thing here is this. I am really excited for Busiek taking on this title. I am glad to see a steady team return to the title. And, of course, I love me some CSA. However, I wrote my response to this article, compared it to my response to the initial announcement of the Busiek/Garney team, and found that, “hey, I just plagiarized myself.” After I got over the crippling depression, I deleted it and moved on.

What I didn’t say in that first write is that Garney’s art looks just great. I enjoyed his run on Captain America with Waid pre- and post-Heroes Reborn, but had heard from some that he had been off his game as of late. Well, I don’t know about all that (I wasn’t reading the titles he was drawing), but whatever the issue was, it has definitely cleared up from the look of the preview pencils that I have so far seen. Let’s hail Garney’s return to goodness.

Did Someone Say Reconstruction? Well, Okay, But Only If It’s Radical! (Rimshot!)

As announced by Vertigo at San Diego this year, Hellblazer wasn’t the end of writer Brian Azzarello teaming with artist Marcello Fruisin. The two will team again, beginning in early 2005 for Loveless a Western coming out under the Vertigo imprint.

Set during the Reconstruction, Loveless stars husband and wife, Wes and Ruth Carter, as two”¦well, as Azzarello gave the soundbyte version, “Bonnie and Clyde on horseback.”

To see if this series will involve a giant mechanical spider (ooh, fingers crossed), why don’t you mosey on over to Newsarama?

Someone pointed out in the talkback section following this article that all Vertigo seems to be lacking these days is a Western comic. I would amend that to point out that Vertigo does not really have a romance offering either, but I understand that that sort of genre of comic is not at the forefront of most fans minds. Mine included.

In any case, his point was still received by me. Just given the offerings of the Vertigo umbrella, a Western would be a natural fit. Sure, Preacher was essentially a modern day Western, but that has been done for more than a few years now, and it wasn’t a Western era Western. Hopefully, Azzarello and Fruisin’s work should scratch that particular itch nicely.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no hope on the mechanical spider front. Life is just so unfair sometimes.

Contact the Count, the Glorious Numbers Have Arrived

DC Comics didn’t have any huge special events or launches in July, but that doesn’t stop them from taking the Top Three spots for that month, with SUPERMAN/ BATMAN #11, SUPERMAN #207 and IDENTITY CRISIS #2, respectively.

Other notable July releases from DC include the first issue each of JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE, BLOODHOUND and BOOKS OF MAGICK: LIFE DURING WARTIME, as well as the completion of SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT and the first wave of the Julius Schwartz tribute titles. Apart from Marvel and DC, the Top 100 in July included usual suspects like CONAN, TRANSFORMERS, SPAWN and… erm, ARMY OF DARKNESS, apparently.

But let’s not split hairs, right?

As always, thanks to Milton Griepp and ICv2.com for permission to use their figures.

Sales Figures HO! at The Pulse

I usually get all glum when I read these, so I’m going to try to mix it up. By concentrating on the positives, perhaps these figures won’t disappoint me so.

For example, DC captured the three top spots this month. That’s pretty darn cool. Even better, Identity Crisis, a book I really like, was amongst the chosen three. Good for me, finally backing a winning horse, right?

On the other hand, the next highest DC book (Batman at #13) is selling at about half ID Crisis’s number. Whatever”¦best not to worry about that. It is still in the top 25 and sure to rise with War Games, so that’s cool.

Titans, JSA, Flash, Robin, and Green Lantern are all doing pretty well, too. That’s pleasing as well.

Then there is Gotham Central, Bloodhound, Sleeper, Monolith, and Human Target”¦and I’m depressed again.

Well, I’ve gave it a shot. Now, so should you. I am begging you hear, check out a critical favorite that isn’t doing so well, ask your retailer to start ordering you a copy. It doesn’t even have to be one of my favorites. Make it Losers or Fallen Angel or Lucifer. Just for fun. It is 3 bucks and you might discover a truly worthy title. These guys are on the chopping block and some of them are truly excellent. Give ‘em a shot.

Superman/Batman Late to the Scene of the Crime Again

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #14-15 RESOLICITED

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #14 (JUL040599) and #15 (AUG040369) are being resolicited with all original orders cancelled.

Check out the teeny-tiny press release at Newsarama

I think this is just a matter of Turner running behind so everything else gets bumped back. It is a shame, but not an unexpected one. Remember the DC that made Kevin Smith turn in a bunch of scripts for GA before they got that party started. Or the DC that made Lee get ahead on Batman? Well, apparently, the same procedure was not followed here.

In the end though, it is only a two month delay and because of it, I would guess, the rest of Loeb’s run will probably run uninterrupted from here on out. Hope so at least. Waiting sucks, but there are worse things.

NOSTAGLIA TIME (Brought to you by Fleetwood Mac’s World Tour)

JLA #1-41

Biographical info time! JLA was the first title that I ever made a consistent effort to buy. This was the title that made me set up a pull list, made me visit comics store, and made me a comic book “fan” rather than an occasional reader. So, in a lot of ways, it is very much Grant Morrison’s fault that I write this column today. So that is either another example of his genius or the most colossal mistake of his entire career. It really depends on your opinion of me, I suppose.

So now, we flashback to 1997 and review how the Big Guns returned to Justice League glory and what the hell they did with it. And as always, thank you Randy Lander for not suing me for stealing your old style.

*Note: For the purposes of this historical review, JLA: Tomorrow Woman, Secret Files and Origins: JLA #1 and 2, New Yea’s Evil: Prometheus, and fill-in JLA issues 18-21, 27, 32, 33, and 35 are considered part of the Morrison era. Deal with it.
Also, DC One Million 1-4 and JLA One Million was covered in last week’s column. Deal with this as well.

What I Liked

How’s everything strike you?

Okay, that is not entirely true. However, for every storyline that ran through the book in those years, I can find at least a few moments to recommend it. With that in mind, let me just offer a few highlights.

The characterization was pretty much dead on through out the run. No one writes a better uber-Batman than Morrison. You may hate the idea of Batman as nigh unstoppable, but you still have to cop that Morrison’s Bats was the coolest cat on the block. Take for example his recovery after Prometheus kicks the stuffing out of him, “Well, that was a humbling experience.” Even beat up he ruled. (Sorry, I like Batman, okay?) Superman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern were giving similarly great scripting. At a time when I had no interest in two of their books (Supes and Fishboy) it was cool that I could still check out stories were I enjoyed them as characters. As good as Marz’s run with Kyle was, Morrison casting him as the eyes of the common (but still highly competent) man amongst gods gave Kyle his strongest moments in the DCU.

You can’t write about Morrison and not comment on the brilliant ideas. The best were, in no particular order, an all White Martian villain team, Prometheus, Zauriel, the Key’s redesign, the first Injustice Gang, Darkseid being the future ruler of earth (and all the excellent moments that came out of that), Starro as dream conqueror, Daniel telling Kyle that he will exceed Hal’s heroics, Professor Ivo and T.O. Morrow as an Odd Couple style team, the Ultramarines, and bring Aztek into the League, however short lived. Even the fill-in books had some great ideas. Milla’s issue featured an Amazo that could take on the powers of any Leaguer making him no nearly unbeatable. But what if there was no League? Waid had two moments to shine: the Julius September issues with their “real science” theories taken to the Nth degree and Batman dispersing the Justice League to bring down”¦Bruce Wayne?

Through this title, I discovered Howard Porter. I know there are some legitimate criticisms of his work from his time on JLA, but I just don’t care. Every issue he drew looked great to me. Pinch hitting by Jimenez, Frank, Land, Jorgensen, and Pajarillo was also nothing to sneeze at. And, as we are discussing the art, it would be a fatal mistake not to mention the inking of John Dell and the coloring of Pat Garrahy. To get a guy like me who is almost always concerned with writing first and fairly clueless on the art side of things to notice your work”¦well, you did something very right (or very wrong, but in this case, very right).

It should also be noted what a great job Morrison does with the various changes of the DCU. Whether it be Diana’s death, Superman going blue and then turning back, or Flash being replaced by a “mysterious” new Flash, he did it all quite well. Even “events” like Day of Judgment were incorporated rather well into the book.

What I Didn’t Like

As you can tell above, there were a ton of ideas in this book. In fact, there were too many for 41 issues. Thus, storylines often felt overstuffed.

The two biggest perpetrators of this were the two Injustice Gang stories. The first is a great take on Lex (nearly) beating the JLA with corporate strategy, just to be thwarted by someone better than him at it, Bruce Wayne (amazing reveal on that moment, by the way). In the midst of that story, however, you have a possible future Darkseid as ruler story. It is pretty damn excellent too, but it interrupts the Injustice Gang story’s flow. If they were too separate stories, I wouldn’t have a single complaint. (Think of Superman’s destruction of the Stone occurring at the end of Rock of Ages story kicking off the Darkseid story instead of in the middle”¦it would still work.)

The second was World War III and the Injustice Gang were basically an appetizer to the main event. Actually, them cast in that role worked quite well. The arc as a whole feels very loose and all over the place, however. It is easily the most disappointing of Morrison’s run.

I failed to be a big fan of Aztek’s demise during World War III either. It was not a death, as I discussed some weeks ago in the Roundtable, that made me uncomfortable. In fact, I didn’t feel much at all really. He barely appears in the series as a whole and offs himself in an act that did not do much of anything. You can argue it sort of freed Superman, but it seemed like Batman had Superman headed in that direction in any case. I guess I would prefer having Aztek dead at the hands of his creator than languishing through lousy stories written by another, but”¦it was just so eh. A very underwhelming death that lacked any sort of punch or purpose.

Finally, although I praised the way Morrison handled interruptions in the title, they still were a touch annoying. Part of the reason that World War III seemed so long is, at least in part, because of the long ramp up to it. The hints that Morrison dropped along the way were fine, but I can count at 2-3 issues in particular that seemed to stall out the slow build.

Bottom Line
For some people, the Justice League will be the Satellite Era or the Cave Era. For me, unquestionably, it will always be Grant’s. The book solidified my love of comics and made me a monthly reader. Morrison and the Big 7 are always going to be my League.

OPINIONS ON THE WORK OF PEOPLE FAR MORE TALENTED THAN I

BATMAN #631

I reviewed this for the site and it should be up in the next few days. Want a hint of what I said?

Well, I used plenty of words like “the” or “a”, I can tell you that. And probably far too many parentheses too.

FLASH #213

Kudos to Howard Porter on this issue as he turns in a thoroughly creepy rendering of old time Flash villain The Turtle. Geoff Johns has given “The Slowest Man Alive” abilities that raise him up above his inglorious past appearances, but it is Porte’s design that makes The Turtle’s return so”¦well, enjoyable isn’t quite the right word. Entertaining, perhaps?

As it turns out The Turtle is just a diversion more than anything else. The big event of the issue concerns Morillo and Chyre’s interrogation of Wally for Ashley Zolomon’s unfortunate accident last issue. The conclusion of the issue provides an unexpected surprise in that department and I’m very interested to see how Johns writes himself out of this particular corner.

GREEN LANTERN #180

Ahh, Major Force. He is a pleasant fella, isn’t he?

I’m still not thrilled that this last arc feels a bit like Marz’s greatest hits part deux, but the ending of this issue is undeniably powerful. Is the DCU big enough for 2 murdering Green Lanterns?

RICHARD DRAGON #4

Finally this book feels like it is starting to come together. It’s still not nearly as impressive as Nightwing was in the two’s collaborative heyday, but the action/characterization ratio is evening out and the characters are beginning to become rounded out. I’ll definitely be sticking around for a few more issues.

SLEEPER SEASON TWO #3

I also reviewed this for the site. Look for it in the next few days. I don’t want to say that it will give meaning to your life, but”¦well, it will give meaning to your life.

WE 3 #1 (OF 3)

On the one hand, we have an excellent opening issue. Quitely’s art has returned to the level of quality he displayed in the JLA: Earth 2 OGN. His security camera sequence that leads up to the issue’s climax is an impressive bit of staging; a great use of a dense arrangement of panels without sacrificing any storytelling.

Morrison is no slouch either, obviously. The unique characterization he assigns to each of the cybernetic animal assassins is intriguing, considering how limited each of their vocabularies. (Did I forget to mention they talk?)

On the other hand, I liked the first issue of Seaguy too. So, we’ll see.

The Republicans hit NYC this week and you know what that means”¦sweet convention coverage all day everyday on CSPAN”¦maybe I’ll just call out sick this week and sit in front of my TV. Mmm, I love me some politics.

And on that note, I am out of here. Please, as always, make every effort to keep it real.

Un Gajje”¦A Little Bit of Meaning in This Insane World